Towards a New Municipalism? Transforming Local Welfare Systems in Spanish Cities in Times of Austerity

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Marc PRADEL MIQUEL, Universitat de Barcelona - CRIT, Spain
Since the emergence of the crisis and the imposition of austerity policies, Spanish cities have witnessed the deepening of social and spatial inequalities. The rise of unemployment and the cuts in social policies at regional and national level have meant a weakening of their local welfare systems. Besides, such local welfare systems were under question even before the crisis, due to the economic transformation towards services economy, the diversification of the social basis of cities and the impact of global actors in local economies. Against this background, citizens of main Spanish citizens started to develop bottom-up initiatives against social exclusion and brought new political coalitions into power with new redistributive agendas and promises of a reconstruction and re-imagination of forms of local welfare. Moreover, new city councils have emphasized the role of municipalism as a basis to widen democracy and social justice. Based on the case of Barcelona with the background of other three Spanish cities (Madrid, Zaragoza and Bilbao), this paper analyses the effective transformation of local welfare systems taking attention to the institutionalization of initiatives by civil society and local administration in the fields of housing and employment and economic development. The research is based on the analysis on policies and initiatives that promote providing welfare with the participation of the beneficiaries and the scope of social justice. The results show that there are attempts to foster new policy-making mechanisms to include citizens in the organization of the local welfare system following strategies of the solidarity economy. Nevertheless, the results are far from being consolidated into a coherent model and are still forms of experimentation.